(Published in the Job Market-Working People section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 25, 2008, Sunday)
By Roel AndagContributor
LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT POWER AND INFLUENCE. Given, you are perched highly in the company, hit business targets while keeping costs down, worshipped by staff like a deity, pulverize the competition and cause others around you to gasp in awe but do you really have power and influence over yourself?
True leaders are successful in three aspects: managing tasks, leading people, and leading oneself. Success in the first two aspects makes a person an excellent manager. One can only truly be called a leader if he excels in all three.
Leadership includes what the leader does away from public view. Without the scrutiny, he relies on his own faculties in behaving towards himself. Such behavior is largely stimulated by the subconscious. Luckily, there are areas of the subconscious that one can consciously influence to achieve worthwhile goals. Self management – the process of maximizing one’s own resources to realize objectives – starts with managing self image, thoughts and emotions.
Self image is the product of a lifetime of internal (how you see yourself) and external (how others see you) scripts. Self image or self concept is rooted in conscious or subconscious perceptions and feeling about your capability (what you believe you can do), worth (what you believe you deserve) and significance (what you believe is your impact). If you are constantly told that you are a leader and your self-generated script agrees, chances are great that you will embody the script.
Conditioning is so potent that your self-image becomes your comfort zone, which is why it is important to deflect scripts that are not beneficial. Gifted with wisdom, it is up to you to receive or reject what others tell you and what you tell yourself. If you disagree with the script but act it out anyway, you become a fabrication who lives an illusion manufactured for projection purposes. You will find it difficult reconciling your multiple personalities.
I believe there is a self image continuum that ranges from extreme insecurity at one end and narcissism at the other. Extreme insecurity or inferiority complex makes one overly receptive thus becoming susceptible to manipulations. Former US first lady and human rights champion Eleanor Roosevelt once quipped: “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” On the other hand, narcissism or superiority complex leads the narcissist to believe that he doesn’t need the opinion and help of other people. Either way, a deflated or inflated ego is destructive. Lead yourself by cultivating a healthy self image that results in esteem and trust in self.
You don’t mumble words to yourself in public lest you become suspected of losing sanity. But you talk to yourself all the time. It is routine. Scientists believe that one talks to himself at an average speed of 50 words per minute or 3,000 words an hour. Imagine the thought torrent! A speeding train of thought, so to speak. This is the most important conversation you have.
If you listen close enough to your inner dialogue you will hear judgments, fears, hopes, worries, prejudices and useless gobbledygook. You discuss with yourself a myriad of subjects including family, career, sex, money, what to wear, what to eat, what to say. It’s an endless list. Your inner dialogue contributes largely to your self image.
The danger is when you dwell on limiting thoughts such as “I can’t do it,” “I don’t deserve to be successful,” or “I’m not good enough.” Lead yourself by applying the self-talk interrupt technique: eliminate an unhelpful thought as soon as it crops up and replace it with enabling and uplifting self dialogue.
Leadership gurus from in different eras testify that thoughts are things. Thoughts translate into reality. No wonder “think positive” is an undying reminder.
Leaders are stone cold, devoid of emotions. Excuse me. This notion of leadership is obsolete. The popularization of emotional intelligence concepts is an obituary-in-progress for the macho corporate culture that considers admitting emotions is queasy and un-businesslike. No longer is emotion considered a mushy topic associated with tearjerkers. After all, beneath its icy exoskeleton of chrome and metal, the workplace is an emotionally charged environment, what with buyouts, layoffs, low pay, hyper targets and other close-to-the-gut issues.
Basic and complex human emotions run the range from pleasure to despair, love to hate, empathy to jadedness, comfort to fear, calm to anger, and conviction to doubt. Do you have to hit your staff with a telephone when you are angry? Do you gratuitously act out your sexual urges? Do you withhold appreciation? Do you decide on bonuses when you are euphoric? Mismanaged negative emotions result in harassment, office rage and, at times, suicide. There is no joy in working with someone who is emotionally unstable.
Lead yourself by exercising your three choices in handling emotions: display, delay or deny. Situations and consequences guide the appropriateness of handling emotions. There are times for transparency, deliberateness and concealment. Process and express your emotions to move toward a positive direction.
How you handle your thoughts, emotions and self image manifests in your appearance, decisions, words and actions. How you treat your inner self shows in how you treat other people. Castigate yourself and you criticize those around you. Celebrate yourself and you become appreciative of others. When you are positive towards yourself you radiate a positive energy towards others.
A powerful force resides inside you. The self is one’s most powerful cheerleader and most dangerous enemy – everything starts from within. Take ownership of your life, lead yourself.